Unicode Polytonic Greek for the Web
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Unicode Polytonic Greek
for the World Wide Web

The Unicode Character

Fundamental to the use of Unicode is an understanding of how Unicode represents the character as an abstract entity, rather than representing the character as an image on the page.

The requirements for electronic publication are quite different from those of print publication. In print publication the format of the book remains immutable, and controls the reader's experience at every level. In electronic publication, however, a text can be approached in a number of different ways, and it is necessary for the character data, the text in the abstract, Platonic sense, to be capable of adapting to those different modes of access.

For instance, most electronic texts are accessed through searches. A given search engine - from whole-internet searches like Google or Teoma, through task specific search like Argos, to site-specific search engines and personal search engines like Zoëaut; - will index the content of a large number of texts. When a user requests a list of texts matching certain parameters, the search engine must compare its index to the parameters provided by the user.

The key thing to remember is that while the user might be presented with something that looks like Figure 1, the search engine is instead presented with a stream of electronic signals better represented by Figure 2.

Beautiful set text, courtesy of MS Word

Figure 1. An image of set Greek text, as prepared in Microsoft Word.

Binary code, a string of ones and zeros, rather like this: 111011000111101111011110110100111100000111101

Figure 2. The binary code seen by the computer is more like this (not an exact representation).

From the point of view of a search engine, it doesn't matter whether the reader spells Ὑπερίονος as an antiqua font with a traditional rho and final sigma or as a modern sans-serif font with a more rounded rho and a lunate sigma; what matters is the binary code that represents the characters that make up the word Ὑπερίονος.

 Unicode Polytonic Greek for the World Wide Web Version 0.9.7
 Copyright © 1998-2002 Patrick Rourke. All rights reserved.
D R A F T - Under Development
 Please do not treat this as a published work until it is finished!
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